Japanese defense spending only behind that of the US and China?

Japan, a pacifist country that has had a rough year so far, apparently has the third largest defense budget in the world. It is speculated that this posture is maintained because of disputed islands with its neighbors, such as Diaoyu Islands with China and the Kuril Islands with Russia, and that Japan’s increasing involvement with NATO and the US requires it to spend more money on defense than in previous years. This increasingly martial stance has been in development over much the last decade. Threats like North Korea have called into question the US’s ability to shield Japan from attack. It is only natural that the Japanese would want to protect their own territory, and its military stance has always been of a purely defensive nature. The legacies of WWII and Japan’s belligerent past with its Asian neighbors places any sort of expenditure on military capability a sensitive issue. Yet, at what point does history become the past and reconciliation can occur? Japan does not harbor colonial ambitions nor does it desire to invade and occupy its neighbors so why the anxiety if Japan wants to defend itself from a nuclear North Korea and a growingly powerful and influential China. It is realism at its finest and scariest.

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